- Senior Partner of Gordon Rees
- Chair of Firm’s Intellectual Property Group
- National & International Clients
- Long term practice in Asia
- Certified Arbitrator
- Extensive International Experience
- Former legal executive for Lanard Toys
Breaking News May 29th, 2015: DubLi Inc. Threatens Legal Action Against Troy Dooly and MLM HelpDesk After Attorney Richard P. Sybert Accuses Troy Dooly Of Hiding Behind False Persona As “Oz” of Behind MLM!
Breaking News May 11, 2015: Michael Hansen Out As CEO Of DubLi… What does the future hold?
Since DubLi entered into the U.S.A. back in 2009, I have been concerned, very critical and at times totally amazed at how they continue to stumble and then reinvent themselves (at least on the surface.)
First they were a reverse penny auction, then a gift card seller, then a shopping platform, then an entertainment community, and now it seems they are about to move away from their questionable reputation by renaming the company Ominto, Inc (found that in a one liner inside the press release below.)
Over the last few years, they did a reverse merger into a company (Medianet Technology Group) with what looked like major financial issues as the “new DubLi” DubLi fell out of compliance with the SEC when it fell behind in filing quarterly financials or found the need to file SEC documents restating the financial reports for several quarters.
This week we have Network Marketing news coming from all over the world, DubLi Network, ACN, AdvoCare, Viridian Energy, The Traveling Vineyard, Ava Anderson Non-Toxic, Essential Bodywear, Stream Energy, Stella & Dot, Mary Kay, MonaVie, Nu Skin, and Shaklee.
DubLi Network #1 eCommerce Network Marketing Company Worldwide
DubLi Dream Days Dubai – Exclusive Event Package
DubLi Dream Days Dubai was billed as the greatest business event in DubLi history. It not only lived up to this expectation, but far surpassed it! Over 1,000 top leaders from more than 25 countries around the world converged on Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai for this life-changing event. DubLi Founder, President and CEO Michael Hansen opened the meeting by saying, “Whatever your greatest expectations were for this event, they will be far exceeded! You will see systems and technology that you didn’t even know had been invented.”
The meeting featured world-class training, motivation, and information, including a myriad of announcements unparalleled by any other company in business today. Most companies would have built complete events around just one of the announcements that were made; DubLi made more than 20 such declarations! Some of these landmark announcements included… (Read the full story here)
ACN will be hosting its International Training Event in Charlotte, N.C., at the end of September. The company is expecting nearly 20,000 independent business owners to attend. Attendees will receive training and hear from motivational speaker John C. Maxwell. The last two ACN events that have been hosted in Charlotte have been estimated to generate $13.8 million for the local economy.
AdvoCare recently announced it is the new title sponsor for the November NASCAR race at Phoenix International Raceway. The race will be called the AdvoCare 500 and take place on Nov. 11, 2012.
Ava Anderson Non-Toxic has been chosen as the next Spanx Leg Up winner. The direct selling company will be featured on the Spanx website and in the Holiday Spanx consumer catalog.
Essential Bodywear is supporting National Breast Cancer Awareness Month by donating $2 to the Pink Daisy Project for every “Jacqueline” wire-free bra sold in October. The donation will be doubled if the goal of 2,000 bras sold is reached. The Pink Daisy Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping women facing the hardship of breast cancer treatment by providing housecleaning help, gift cards for necessities such as groceries and gas, assistance with prescription drug costs and more.
The Mary Kay Foundation awarded $3 million in grants to 150 domestic violence shelters in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, taking place in October. Each shelter received a $20,000 grant to maintain critical services and programs for women and children who are survivors of domestic violence. Through its annual shelter grant program, the foundation has now provided a total of $31 million to domestic violence organizations since 2000.
MonaVie will begin its “Get a VIEW” city tour in October, featuring the new MonaVie VIEW Antioxidant Scanner. There will be more than 30 stops throughout the U.S. and five in Canada.
Nu Skin recently announced plans to triple its number of stores and sales support centers in China by 2017 and expand its direct selling coverage and distribution model to generate higher levels of market penetration.
In additional company news, Nu Skin has been able to expand its charitable work in 2012:
The Nu Skin Force For Good Foundation was able to start work on a new educational center being built in Vanua Leva Island, Fiji, with the help of a new partner, Seacology; open the Nu Hope Library, which was donated to the children of Chungbuk Province in South Korea; and donate a vehicle to The Center for Children’s Mental Healthcare in Japan, which was established to help the children who were affected by the Tohoku earthquake last year.
The Nu Skin Foundation has donated more than $900,000 in grants to charitable projects; has been able to open 10 children’s libraries; helped 77 children receive life-saving heart surgeries; given more than $16,000 for the “Lunch Box Delivery” program, which brought needed meals to children and senior citizens in Korea; and issued 56 scholarships through the ETC scholarship program.
Nu Skin’s “Nourish the Children” initiative was also able to deliver almost 10 million donated meals of “VitaMeal” to some of the countries that need it most, including Russia, South Africa, Malawi, China, the Philippines, Thailand, Guatemala, Haiti, El Salvador and Fiji, as well as to impoverished areas within the United States and Canada.
These charitable works are all made possible through the donations of Nu Skin customers and distributors.
Shaklee recently held its annual convention in Las Vegas with more than 6,000 attendees. Inspired by information provided during a keynote by Dr. Jamie McManus, conference attendees committed to losing a combined total of 72,855 pounds in the 90 days following the convention.
Stella & Dot recently launched a capsule collection of signature jewelry and accessories to celebrate National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For each piece purchased during the month of October, all net proceeds will benefit the Noreen Fraser Foundation, a nonprofit organization with a mission to raise funds for women’s cancer research and awareness of the importance of early detection.
Stream Energy has been named a finalist for a Platts Global Energy Award. The company is contending for the Corporate Social Responsibility Award in the Stewardship Award category. This is the second year in a row in which Stream Energy is being recognized for its charitable work on behalf of Captain Hope’s Kids, a not-for-profit advocacy organization for homeless children in the North Texas region. Winners of the 2012 Global Energy Awards will be announced at a celebration on Nov. 29, 2012, in New York City.
The Traveling Vineyard recently announced the creation of a new federal bonded and licensed winery facility in Buellton, Calif., in the Santa Barbara County wine region. This will be the second winery location for the company.
Viridian Energy recently held its third-annual PowerUP! convention in Atlantic City, N.J. Key announcements at this year’s convention included foundational growth plans for Viridian, product expansion, a new business management platform and new training programs.
Source: Direct Selling Association
As some of you know when DubLi launched DubLi Network in 2009 here in the USA, I was not only skeptical I may have been one of the biggest critics. However, as I have reported recently, with their changes they made after hiring MLM attorneys, Grimes & Reese and other network marketing consultants, and merging into MediaNet Group, they went on to become the world’s largest online shopping and entertainment network marketing company in the world. But… What about the Reverse (Unique Bid) Auctions, do they really work?
Now in case you have not watched the video above, I also want to disclose that John Benham, the Senior Director of Marketing at the DubLi Network is a close personal friend, and someone I have been in business with several times over the last couple of decades.
I can also say, it is through John Benham’s influence that I decided to take a closer look at DubLi and the DubLi Network after our initial coverage back in 2009.
Benham, sent me an email last week, and after studying it and working through the links, I found some solid info, that I feel based on the amount of folks who are investigating the unique bid auctions should be aware of.
– The biggest difference between DubLi and everyone else at this time seems to be the fact they have taken the reverse (unique Bid) auctions from being the leading product, and made them more of just an entertainment byproduct of the DubLi site.
Now with that said, it is clear that the reverse auctions truly seem to work…
– Shopping and entertainment are the biggest part. People can save up to 30% on the things they buy everyday from the retailers they already by from…. Apple, Walmart, Nordstroms, Target, etc.
– I did want you to know that 100% of our Xpress (reverse bid) Auctions sell below face value.
– DubLi is selling over 6,000 gift cards a day all below face value! These monies can be transferred to a DubLi e-wallet, DubLi Debit Card or your checking account.
– 100% of DubLi’s Unique Bid Auctions also sell items below value. (These are the Big Ticketed Item Above)
In my opinion DubLi.com is the standard all Unique Bid Auctions should be aiming towards. I don;t care if the auction house has an affiliate program or not!
A few days ago we started looking at the Unique Bid Auction industry to better understand why network marketers from around the world are flocking to companies like DubLi Network, Zeek Rewards and BidiFy. Today I want to look at what the critics have to say about the Unique Bid Auction, and a little about gamification, one of the psychologies which could be attracting millions of folks to bid in the auctions.(Click here to read part one)
What is Gamification?
Gamification is known to be used interchangeably when talking about the three following terms: game design techniques, game thinking and game mechanics to enhance non-game contexts. In most situations gamification will apply to non-game applications (such as unique bid auctions) and processes (Facebook applications), in order to encourage people to adopt them, or to influence how they are used. (On a positive note, Evolv Health used gamification in their new Facebook application attracting 32,000 stories in the first 30 days, with 2.5 million impressions being shared worldwide, leading to their surge in new customers and distributors.)
Gamification can be described as, making technology more engaging (easier to understand and use). Guiding or encouraging users to engage in desired manner. Helping the user or programmer to solve situations while not being a distraction, And lastly and maybe the most interesting where it pertains to unique bid auctions, taking advantage of human psychological predisposition to engage in competitive (maybe addictive) online activities. Second Life, may be one of the first online communities to have utilized gamification, even though I do not think the term was around back at the launch.)
Here are some great research on gamification:
All the World’s a Game, and Brands Want to Play Along – Source – Ad Age Digital
“Basically game mechanics are a way to get consumers addicted to things,” said Tim Chang, principal at Norwest Venture Partners, which has backed many social mobile game companies. “They keep people engaged to keep doing things, as opposed to what goes viral quick: You click, you watch and then never see it again.”
One of the best examples is, of course, mobile social game Foursquare, which awards badges as users “check in” via their phones at physical places. Accumulating badges — and achieving statuses such as the “mayor” — are motivations to get people to check in.
Mr. Chang plots this trend on what he calls the “game-ification of life,” where competition and points are increasingly a part of offline activities, such as shopping with services like Gilt Groupe and Groupon and health and wellness with NikePlus.
Recently H&M ran the first-ever brand integration on MyTown, a mobile game like Monopoly set in the real world, created by developer Booyah. During the campaign, H&M was the most searched location within the game, 700,000 users checked in to its retail stores, and 8 million saw its virtual goods. The game, which has 2.3 million users since launch in December, has since worked with brands such as Travel Channel, Olay and Microsoft Windows. (Read the full article click here)
Jesse Schell, a game design professor at Carnegie Mellon University, generated a lot of chuckles this morning with his observations about that in his talk “Beyond Facebook” at the Dice Summit in Las Vegas.
Facebook games and others that use the “free to play” business model, where you can play a game for free and make money by selling virtual goods, hook their users via clever psychological tricks that convince you to buy things, either with real cash or by fulfilling some kind of special offer. These little incentives add up, creating a silly compulsion loop, forcing people to search for achievement points in everything they do. They keep playing because they get little rewards all of the time. Schell said that this trick will tie into other trends. (Read the full article click here)
Gamification Facts & Figures – Source – Enterprise Gamification
Average age of gamers in years: 37 (has also been playing for average of 12 years)
77% of American households own videogames
The average age of the most frequent game purchaser : 41 years
55% of gamers play games on their phones or mobile devices
% of youth playing computer & video games: 97
% of female gamers: 42 (In fact, women over the age of 18 represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (37 percent) than boys age 17 or younger (13 percent).)
% of gamers older than Fifty (2011): 29 (an increase from 9% in 1999; This figure is sure to rise in coming years with nursing homes and senior centers across the nation now incorporating video games into their activities.)
Percent of gamers who play games with other gamers in person: 65
91% of the time parents are present at the time games are purchased or rented.
68% of parents believe that game play provides mental stimulation or education, 57% believe games encourage their family to spend to time together, and 54% believe that game play helps their children connect with their friends.
Avg. of hours/week played in WoW: 20
Gamers have collectively spent 5.93 million years playing World of Warcraft
# of articles in WoWWiki: ˜250,000
Rank of WoWWiki compared to all Wikis: 2nd
Rank of Wikipedia: 1st
Most popular games played by US soldiers in Iraq when off-duty: Halo, Call of Duty
46.6% of surveyed German employees playing games during working hours: daily, 10.0%; several times a week, 15.5%; once a week, 7.0%; once per month, 3.6%; less than once per month, 10.6%
61% of surveyed CEOs and CFOs are playing games during their working hours
Highest proportion of active gamers by country in percentage of the population (National Gamers Survey 2011):
Largest number of gamers are in China
Average number of game platforms that a gamer plays on: 3.8
Time spent gaming per day in the US: 215,000,000 hours
Examples of companies and industries using gamification:
Communicate Hope, which aided the development of Microsoft’s Office Communicator (now known as Lync). For this game, the goal was to get users to provide feedback on the product design and usability and to submit bugs. The game leaderboard was linked to five charities and Microsoft’s contributions to those charities was tied to the game results. Smith’s group got 16x more feedback from people playing the game than those not playing the game, and tens of thousands of dollars went to the charities.
Microsoft & Rochester Institute of Technology – Students who dropout early were less likely to have been woven into the social fabric of their school. Phelps proposed to create a productivity-style game around the “non-academic” aspects of college life and turn it into a “Hero’s Journey.”
Here is a great slideshow presentation on exactly how gamification works
Now think of how unique bid auctions work… Winner’s circle, competitively against others. Using free bids just to say you are the winner, these are all techniques we can find in other online businesses.
Now let’s look at what critiques have to say about the unique bid auctions:
Most online penny auctions just don’t make any sense – Source – MSNBC
But before you rush to sign up, you’d better understand how penny auctions work. The bidding starts at zero and goes up by only a penny each time. But you have to pay anywhere from 50 cents to a dollar to place a bid. And most penny auction sites make you buy a package of bids to get started.
“They’re very different from other auctions because you have to pay to play,” says Bob Schroeder with the Federal Trade Commission. “You could end up spending more than the value of the product you’re bidding on.” (Read the full article click here)
Profitable Until Deemed Illegal – Source – Coding Horror
I was fascinated to discover the auction hybrid site swoopo.com (previously known as telebid.com). It’s a strange combination of eBay, woot, and slot machine. Here’s how it works:
You purchase bids in pre-packaged blocks of at least 30. Each bid costs you 75 cents, with no volume discount.
Each bid raises the purchase price by 15 cents and increases the auction time by 15 seconds.
Once the auction ends, you pay the final price.
I just watched an 8GB Apple iPod Touch sell on swoopo for $187.65. The final price means a total of 1,251 bids were placed for this item, costing bidders a grand total of $938.25.
So that $229 item ultimately sold for $1,125.90.
But that one final bidder got a great deal, right? Maybe. Even when you win, you can lose. Remember that each bid costs you 75 cents, while only increasing the price of the item 15 cents. If you bid too many times on an item — or if you use the site’s “helpful” automated BidButler service, which bids on your behalf — you’ll end up paying the purchase price in bids alone. For this item, if you bid more than 305 times, you’ve paid the purchase price — and only raised the cost of the item by $45.75 total. (Read the full article click here)
The Big Money: The Pennies Add Up at Swoopo.com – Source – Washington Post
At first glance, Swoopo.com — which began in Germany as a phone and TV-based auction site called Telebid, migrated to the web as “Swoopo,” and launched its U.S. site last year — looks like an auction site patterned on eBay, with prices for most items starting at a penny and rising as members “bid” up the price. Like eBay, Swoopo has a full panoply of auction tools, such as comprehensive records of all completed auctions and an electronic bidding system (“Bid Butler”) that will put in last-second bids to keep you in the auction. Unlike eBay, however, on Swoopo you pay 60 cents each time you make a bid.
Sixty cents? Sure doesn’t sound like much when a $1,000-plus camera or computer is at stake. But consider the MacBook Pro that Swoopo sold recently for $35.86. Swoopo lists its suggested retail price at $1,799. But then look at what the bidding fee does. For each “bid,” the price of the computer goes up by a penny, and Swoopo collects 60 cents. To get up to $35.86, it takes a stunning 3,585 bids — and Swoopo gets its fee for each. That means that before selling this computer, Swoopo took in $2,151 in bidding fees. Yikes.
In essence, what your 60-cent bidding fee gets you at Swoopo is a ticket to a lottery, with a chance to get a high-end item at a ridiculously low price. With each bid, the auction is extended for a few seconds to keep it going as long as someone in the world is willing to take just one more shot. This can go on for a very, very long time. The winner of the MacBook Pro auction bid more than 750 times, accumulating $469.80 in fees.
Some of the ideas behind Swoopo have been explored in a theoretical way by game theorists. The reluctance of bidders to say goodbye to their “sunk cost” has been explored by economists such as Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky — and has been found to draw bidders deeper into the game. Swoopo plays off those insights to efficiently get people to make bad choices. It’s the evil stepchild of game theory and behavioral economics. (Read the full article click here)
An iPad for $2.82, or illegal gambling? Source – Red Tape Chronicles – MSNBC
Here’s a puzzler: How can a website sell a $10 Walmart gift card for 26 cents and still make money? Or sell an Apple iPod worth $100 for $3.30 and make an enormous profit?
Welcome to the wild world of penny auctions, where nothing is quite what it seems and everything costs money — even the bids themselves.
Penny auctions have taken the Internet by storm. Ads for electronics products promising seemingly impossible 95 percent discounts appear on hundreds of popular websites. There are dozens of penny auction sites, with more popping up daily. One site, SkoreIt.com, recently engaged in an aggressive national radio campaign, bringing even more attention to this “new kind of auction.”
Penny auctions are run by for-profit companies that believe they’ve hit on a new formula that is entertaining and offers a real chance at deeply discounted merchandise. Of course, paying a little money for a chance at a big prize sounds like gambling, but supporters of the concept say that additional elements they’ve added differentiate the format from what might otherwise be called an illegal lottery. Some observers aren’t so sure.
“We call this entertainment retail,” said Jeff Geurts, chief financial officer of Quibids. He says the site runs 15,000 auctions per day, and will soon ship its 2 millionth product to a winner. “We look at shipping products as a measure of our success.” (Read the full article click here)
Well there you have it a little more on the whole unique bid auction industry.
Over the last 9 to 12 months, we have seen the Unique Bid Auctions start to take off in the USA as well as around the world. DubLi Network was the first to penetrate the US market back in 2009 with their Reverse Auction Platform. However, since 2010, it has been the Penny Auctions which have caught the attention of affiliate marketers, internet marketers and network marketers alike. Plus it has attracted some folks which have been known to join several programs which have been deemed ponzi schemes by the regulators in the USA and abroad. In the next couple of article my goal is to shed some light on the Unique Bid Auction niche and how reverse and penny auctions work.
Two basic forms of Unique Bid Auctions:
1. Penny Auctions – These are known as “Highest Unique Bid Auctions” Zeekler is the most well known due to the fact they use an exclusive hybred affiliate/network marketing arm (Zeek Rewards) to market their penny auctions.
2. Reverse Auctions – These are known as “Lowest Unique Bid Auction” DubLi is the most well known worldwide due to the fact they also use an exclusive network marketing arm (DubLi Network) to market their reverse auctions.
Are Unique Bid Auctions Legal?
This is the #1 question that has face the unique bid niche over the last couple of years. Through some extensive research, several points have become clear.
1. There is not regulation of Unique Bid Auctions at this time in North America or worldwide that I could fine.
2. Due to a lack of regulation there have been several unique bid auctions shut down due to unethical business practices. The USA has is the leader in shutting down any unique bid auction operating in a manner which violates consumers rights.
3. To determine if a unique bid auction is legal is not easy to determine. The regulators use a combination of laws governing gaming, investments, lotteries, business opportunities, and the math (design) of the specific unique bid auction.
If a regulating authority determines that the auction is designed more like a slot machine (games of chance) vs. games of skill (Texas Holdem) then the auction may fall fall under lottery laws.
However, if the regulators find the math algorithms defining the auction strategy are more inline with games of skill, and that the outcome of the auction is mostly in the hands of the bidders, then the regulator may find the auction is completely legal.
Let’s take a look at the math behind the Unique Bid Auctions, which by the way, has been the subject of many studies since about 2007.
Purdue University has a report dated February 2007, which is the oldest I have found on the subject of Unique Penny Auctions. This report was written by F.Thomas Bruss, Guy Louchard, and Mark Daniel Ward (Click here to read)
The Social Science Research Network has a paper written in April 2007 Yaron Raviv (Claremont Colleges – Robert Day School of Economics and Finance), and Gabor Virag (Rotman School of Management) wrote a paper titled “Gambling By Auctions” covers “We provide theoretical and empirical analysis of a selling mechanism used by an Internet web-site that combines important features of auctions and gambling.” (click here to read)
The ACM Digital Library has a fantastic paper, or what I would call a series of papers on ransactions on Algorithms (TALG). It does have a $40 to $50 cost with it, but it does explain the math algorithms in detail. (Click here to purchase)
Munich Personal RePEc Archive, hosts a paper titled “Unique bid auctions: Equilibrium solutions and experimental evidence” , this paper was written in 2007, but was updated in 2009. It is written by Rapoport, Amnon; Otsubo, Hironori; Kim, Bora and Stein, and William E., and explains how these folks constructed the symmetric mixed-strategy equilibrium solutions to the two auctions, and then tested them in a sequence of experiments that vary the number of bidders and size of the strategy space.” (Click here to read)
IDEAS a service hosted by the Economic Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, hosts a very good read by Andrea Gallice titled “Lowest Unique Bid Auctions with Signals” which explains that a lowest unique bid auction allocates a good to the agent who submits the lowest bid that is not matched by any other bid. (Click here to read)
Cornell University Library has a paper listed under Computer Science > Computer Science and Game Theory titled “Equilibrium strategy and population-size effects in lowest unique bid auctions” which covers how the lowest unique bid auctions, $N$ players bid for an item. They use a grand canonical approach to derive an analytical expression for the equilibrium distribution of strategies. Then study the properties of the solution as a function of the mean number of players, and compare them with a large dataset of internet auctions. (Click here to read)
In my next article, I will cover the gaming theory behind the Unique Bid Auctions and some of the criticism surrounding this new online auction niche.
Yesterday I received a call from my close friend and long time mentor Tom Chenault because he had received a call himself, from a close friend who asked “Does Troy Dooly endorse Zeek Rewards, and the Unique Auction niche?”
Chenault, went on to mention he had heard my videos were all over Zeek Reward’s site, and that it might have been mentioned that the Association of Network Marketing Professionals also endorsed Zeek Rewards.
Well let me make it perfectly clear, the ANMP aka Association of Network Marketing Professionals, does NOT endorse Zeek Rewards or any other network marketing company for that matter. We do have network marketing companies who sponsor our crusade and help us in underwriting the costs in educating both companies and distributors on the best practices to be used in the network marketing community. And we have sponsors who help underwrite our legal fund when we fight along side the DSA in defeating legislative bills which could harm the network marketing community as a whole.
Now as for me endorsing Zeek Rewards, DubLi Network or any other company inside the Unique Auction niche. I do not endorse any one company. However, I am very vocal in supporting corporate leadership who understand the need to hire the best legal and compliance minds today, to make sure the company has the best chance of becoming a viable network marketing opportunity for the independent business owners who decide to signup to market their brand.
Now I can say that based on the current information I have at hand, DubLi and Zeekler do seem to be the two “Unique Bid Companies” inside the network marketing community who are doing it right, or at least are trying to do it right. That does not mean BidiFy or Co2 Rewards will not get their act together, it just means the others are ahead of the compliance game.
Now for those who may be scratching their head wondering what a Unique Bid Company is, then join the club, I had the same issue.
To make is simple, there are two types of Unique Bid Auction companies in the niche today. Both seemed to have originated in Europe around the middle of the first decade of the 21st century.
Highest Unique Bid aka Penny Auctions. This is where the bidder must have the highest unmatched bid when the auction closes to win.
Lowest Unique Bid aka Reverse Auction. This is where the bidder must have the lowest unmatched bid when the auction closes to win.
Well for some this will clarify where I stand on this issue, for others they will still wonder… For all, I will do two more videos and article on the Unique Bid Auction Niche to help us all better understand why people are attracted to this type of business model.
Living An Epic Adventure